The objective was always their slowing down and degrading Russian forces, as Ukraine continues its counterattack in the Kherson sector. US HIMARS weapons have arrived, and additional materiel has been allocated to Ukraine.
Russian forces have made substantial gains in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area over the last several days and Ukrainian troops continue to suffer high casualties, but Ukrainian forces have fundamentally accomplished their objective in the battle by slowing down and degrading Russian forces. Head of the Luhansk Oblast Administration Serhiy Haidai stated on June 23 that Ukrainian troops may have to retreat to avoid encirclement in Lysychansk, which indicates that Ukrainian authorities are setting conditions to prepare for the ultimate loss of both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. As ISW has previously assessed, however, the loss of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk will not represent a major turning point in the war. Ukrainian troops have succeeded for weeks in drawing substantial quantities of Russian personnel, weapons, and equipment into the area and have likely degraded Russian forces' overall capabilities while preventing Russian forces from focusing on more advantageous axes of advance. Russian offensive operations will likely stall in the coming weeks, whether or not Russian forces capture the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area, likely granting Ukrainian forces the opportunity to launch prudent counteroffensives. The Kremlin’s ideological fixation on the capture of Severodonetsk, much like the earlier siege of Azovstal, will likely be to the ultimate detriment of Russian capabilities in future advances in Ukraine. The loss of Severodonetsk is a loss for Ukraine in the sense that any terrain captured by Russian forces is a loss—but the battle of Severodonetsk will not be a decisive Russian victory.
- Belarusian forces are conducting mobilization exercises along the Ukrainian border but are unlikely to enter the war in Ukraine due to their low capabilities and the adverse domestic implications of military involvement on behalf of Russia.
- Russian forces have likely reached the southern outskirts of Lysychansk and are reinforcing their grouping around Severodonetsk to complete the capture of both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. These gains remain unlikely to provide Russian forces with a decisive edge in further operations in Ukraine and have further degraded Russian capabilities.
- Russian forces are continuing efforts to encircle the Ukrainian grouping in Hirske and Zolote and are likely moving to take control of these settlements.
- Russian forces have likely successfully interdicted Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 highway and are using recent gains along the highway to reinforce assaults on Lysychansk.
- Russian forces amassed equipment and continued building defensive capabilities along the Southern Axis.
The European Union has approved the application of Ukraine to become a candidate country for admission to the 27-strong bloc in a step Kyiv and Brussels hailed as an “historic moment”. EU leaders meeting in Brussels followed the recommendation of the European Commission, which was made on 17 June.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, immediately welcomed the move, saying: “Ukraine’s future is in the EU.” “It’s a victory … we have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” he added, referring to the duration of the war and the decades since Ukraine became independent on the breakup of the Soviet Union. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”
The US will send another $450m in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems. The latest package includes four high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) and tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition as well as patrol boats, Pentagon officials announced on Thursday. With the latest shipments, the US contribution to Ukraine’s military will amount to $6.1bn so far, White House spokesperson, John Kirby, added.
Russian forces captured two villages in eastern Ukraine and are fighting for control of a key highway in a campaign to cut supply lines and encircle frontline Ukrainian forces, according to British and Ukrainian military officials.
The battle for two key cities in eastern Ukraine is edging towards “a fearsome climax”, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, has said. Russia is now believed to control all of Sievierodonetsk with the exception of the Azot chemical plant.
No town is safe for residents in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk as fighting intensifies, local officials claim. “There is no place, no town in Donetsk region where it would be safe,” Pavlo Kyrylenko told Agence France-Presse, citing latest intelligence data. “It is extremely dangerous for residents to stay in any places of the region.”
Lesson 1: Old-War militaries are inherently ill-suited for the conditions and challenges of the 21st century. The pervasive failures of the Russian military in Ukraine (and elsewhere) owe to the failed thinking that succors modern military establishments everywhere: that the supernal essence of the military is to prepare for and wage war; that waging war calls for nothing less than overwhelming force and indiscriminate terror; that wars waged against the inevitable asymmetric threats of the postmodern present are winnable and can be prosecuted by traditional, disproportionate, indiscriminate means; and that militaries single-mindedly prepared to wage war, destroy, and intimidate can change course and produce peace, build, and reassure.
Lesson 2: Military deference to civilian authority is an outmoded, dysfunctional concept under despotic civilian rule. Uncritically accepting the argument that a military—even in the hands of a self-serving tyrant—is an instrument of the state that necessarily must, as a matter of principle, give unquestioningly dutiful obedience to civilian authority is to betray a shallow conception of civilian control and to deny that sane minds would relish a Russian military standing in opposition to Vladimir Putin (or, for that matter, any military—even our own—faced with obeying or disobeying a like-minded autocrat).
Lesson 3: Established laws of armed conflict have effect only in the hands of rulers and militaries that honor their primacy in practice. Such laws are designed to ensure that organized violence in the affairs of state is not divorced from humanitarian considerations...
Lesson 4: The International Criminal Court—along with the associated concept of universal jurisdiction—is a toothless instrument of power and accountability. The United States and Russia have refused to ratify the Rome Statute. To hold accountable those, in this case Putin and his military consuls, who are demonstrably guilty of the most heinous international crimes—war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and aggression—requires those, the United States above all, to have established their right to exact accountability by relinquishing narrow national prerogatives to the larger global imperatives of rule by law.
Lesson 5: Sanctions are now more dubious than ever, especially against an adversary possessed of vital resources. To depend on sanctions, even smart or targeted ones, as a preferred alternative to force, without recognizing how time-consuming, difficult-to-assess, subject to misinterpretation as a sign of cowardice rather than of courage, and unjustly injurious to innocent parties they may be, is to opt for symbolism over substance and thereby risk the inevitable leakage that attends globalization, interdependence, and diversified sourcing.
The Russian navy has been given orders to lay mines at the ports of Odesa and Ochakiv, and has already mined the Dnieper River, as part of a blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, according to newly declassified US intelligence.
US officials also released satellite images showing the damage inflicted by Russian missile strikes earlier this month on Ukraine’s second biggest grain terminal at nearby Mykolaiv, at a time when the interruption of grain exports threatens to trigger a global famine. Sunflower oil storage tanks at Mykolaiv came under attack on Wednesday.
Russia has denied laying mines around the Black Sea ports, and has turned around the allegations on Kyiv, claiming instead the Ukrainians have mined their own ports.
The US says its intelligence points to a concerted Russian strategy to cut off the stretch of the coast still under Ukrainian control. “The United States has information that the Black Sea fleet is under orders to effectively blockade the Ukrainian ports of Odesa and Ochakiv,” a US official said.
“We can confirm that despite Russia’s public claims that it is not mining the north-western Black Sea, Russia actually is deploying mines in the Black Sea near Ochakiv. We also have indication that Russian forces previously mined the Dnieper River.”
“The impact of Russia’s actions, which have caused a cessation of maritime trade in the northern third of the Black Sea and made the region unsafe for navigation, cannot be understated, as Ukraine’s seaborne exports are vital to global food security,” the official said, pointing out that Ukraine supplied a 10th of global wheat exports and about 95% of those exports left the country through the Black Sea ports.